dear diary ~ always the unexpected

Well it is in my life!

I thought things were going too well but after the last few days I am resigned to thinkng that my life is never going to be simple or straightforward.

Last Sunday night we made an unexpected trip up to North Yorkshire to stay with my younger daughter and our two granddaughters, Little L and Sweetie, as she was in a fix. Her car had broken down the week before and it was still waiting inspection at the garage it had been recovered to. It wasn’t evident if it was the battery or the alternator or something else and the garage were fully booked with work for a fortnight. Last week she managed to borrow a car from a friend but that was not possible for this week so it fell to us to help out as she had the children to get to school and nursery and herself to work.

We stayed until Wednesday night when she managed to hire a car to get her through Thursday and today until the car is fixed, hopefully by clse of play tonight. Before we came back down home we drove up to see mum with flowers for her birthday which was yesterday – it was a nice surprise for her as she wasn’t expecting us even though we could only stay an hour. I never make firm plans for visiting her now as she gets confused over dates and times so I tend to tell her the night before a visit but in this case I didn’t even mention we might call just in case we couldn’t. My sister took her out for a meal yesterday to celebrate her 97th birthday.

I was telling Sweetie who is only four that great granny has now had the pleasure of 97 birthdays and very soon in 3 years time, fingers crossed, she might be celebrating one hundred – she was impressed and keeps asking her mum now when she will be 100 (Sweetie that is not great granny).

So back home again and we found it had been snowing whilst we were away and it is mighty cold – not good for the heating bills. On totting up the receipts for the four days away we had spent the grand sum of £110, mostly on bits and pieces and buying snacks and drinks out to keep us going as well as bits of shopping for evening meals and lunches. DH also did a few jobs around the house for my daughter – one of them was replacing the sealant around the kitchen worktop and along the bath – the price of a tube of sealant now is £9.80. As he has only used half the tube I suggested he replaced some of the sealant in our shower with what is left before it goes dry in the tube.

I was amazed at how the money adds up so quickly. We didn’t have time to fill a flask on the way up and I need a stop to give my back a break from sitting in the car so our first spend was the motorway Costa – £9.20 for two drinks and a packet of oat biscuits which we shared. On Monday our daughter was working around Northallerton all day so after dropping her off we had a look around the town and then went to Strikes garden centre cafe just outside the town centre for lunch but what a rip off. DH had the cheese and chutney sandwich which was served with coleslaw and side salad but his double espresso was charged as 2 @ £2.25 making it £4.50 (most places charge about 70p to £1 for the extra shot of coffee in a double).

I am not a sandwich fan and prefer baked potato with cheese. Their menu only had baked potato with Chicken Tikka or a Butternut Squash Curry filling and they were both £8.95 and more of a main meal. I had wanted something a bit lighter so enquired if they did a plain baked potato with just a little cheese and coleslaw. Yes, the lady said that was fine but when it came to paying they charged me for a Chicken Tikka and I pointed out I was having cheese and coleslaw but she said it would be the same price as the Chicken Tikka as they had no other price point to press on the till. So our light lunch cost a staggering £22.55 – needless to say we will not be going again.

I bought mum a lovely bunch of mixed colour tulips and stopped to get her a take out cappuccino and a lemon tart (her favourite) from a local Costa. Unfortunately, although I asked for a lemon tart and they had plenty and it said lemon tart on the receipt, when I took it out of the bag to give to mum it was a cherry bakewell! Still she enjoyed them.

Today it is little Freddie’s 4th birthday – so we will be going to see him with his card and present. He is super excited to be having a Paw Patrol party with a few friends on Sunday and now my younger daughter is mobile again she will bring Little L and Sweetie down to join in the party.

So I had better get my skates on to prepare for their arrival tomorrow – I have beds to make up and food to prepare. We are on rations now until next week as part of the £110 we just spent on our travels was really this week’s housekeeping, so I will have to be very creative to conjour up some satisfying meals from very little.

I am a little disappointed that all my plans for January have already gone off course and the money I had saved from being very careful and not spending money unless necessary has had to go on eating out. Let’s hope February proves to be a bit better.

Welcome to new readers – you will notice a lack of photos until normal life resumes, and apologies for not being able to join in with the Scraphappy Challenge for January.

creating Christmas * day 2

One of the most pleasurable tasks on my Christmas list is making the cake. We are not a fan of the very dark rich and sticky fruit cakes but much prefer a rather more mellow cake with plenty of ‘cake’ around the fruit. The recipe that I have used for years called the ‘Virtualy Organic Christmas cake’ just fits the bill – it has equal amounts of currants, raisins and sultanas and chopped dried unsulphured apricots instead of candied peel.

And plenty of brandy.

Last year was the first year using my new oven and I felt the cake was a tad overdone but this year with a bit of fine tuning with the temperature and using the circotherm setting it turned out much better. We have unintentionally started a new tradition with the grandchildren – I put marzipan and white roll out icing on top of the cake ready for the three grandchildren to add the decorations of their choice on Christmas Eve.

This was Christmas 2020 when Little L decorated the cake for us with these lovely decorations from B&M ….

And Christmas 2021 when Sweetie and Freddie were old enough to join in and they added the Christmas tree candles.

This year I found some snowmen and penguins in the same range to add to the collection – I can’t wait to see their finished effort.

We had Freddie all day today from 8.15 this morning until 6.30 tonight to give mum and dad a bit of free time. As you can imagine we are totally exhausted and will spend the rest of the evening doing some relaxing TV viewing if we can find anything we want to watch. To say there are more channels than ever there is often little on that we want to watch and we find ourselves switching over to BBC iplayer to watch Inspector Montalbano and are currently wading through all 37 episodes. They do require concentration though to keep up with the subtitles but if I fall asleep I can wind it back.

I thought I felt a cold coming on this morning – I had bouts of sneezing and a sore throat and quickly reach for the high strength Vitamin C. There seems to be a bit of a pattern to all this at the moment – I am not well and out of action for a while….I then recover and life suddenly becomes hectic….perhaps too hectic as we try to catch up on things that got left when I was under the weather. We then become overtired and stressed trying to fit too much in and then before I know it I start to feel poorly again. Tomorrow will be a busy day I have cards to make and will need a quick trip into town then a 30th birthday party to get ready for (my friend’s daughter) with an early start of 5.30pm for a chocolate surprise and mocktails.

Sunday we will be visiting my mum who is not good at the moment – she seems to be confused (though she won’t admit it is her) and a bit more agressive towards the people helping her. She asked her hairdresser to perm her hair and cut it much shorter. Mum is now claiming the perm hasn’t taken and that the hairdresser didn’t cut her hair at all. The hairdresser is naturally upset at the accusation.

The community nurses going in to dress the ulcer on her leg are now at their wits end because she keeps removing the dressings and bandages and sticking an ordinary plaster on the wound. It is now infected. The doctor made a home visit this week to look at her leg and ran a few memory type tests while she was there. She has concern over two of the tests that mum failed but she was OK on many of them. She thinks she may have a urine infection that can cause confusion in the elderly. My sister is so stressed with it all and is going away for a few days.

Once we have seen mum we will be staying over with my daughter so we can wait in for a delivery and possibly meeting up for an hour or two with my SIL who will be up in the area visiting one of her relations. Then it will be back home for my hospital appointment, the ultra sound scan on my shoulder and a delivery of our own (the TV stand).

It will be Thursday before we will be able to draw breath! I am beginning to think that we might not be ready in time for Christmas! How are you doing?

dear diary >> looking forward

Thank you for all the kind comments and well wishes. I seem to be reporting a lot this year about illness, so I am hoping the start of next year will see a big improvement to my health. Illness of any kind can often drag you down and I do feel like each time I just get going again something else happens and like a game of snakes and ladders I find myself sliding back down a slippery slope once again.

This Covid virus has certainly taken its toll on both of us and the fatigue is only just beginning to go. Yesterday we managed another very short walk down the lane although it was quite miserable in the drizzle and eerily quiet – still it was good to be out in the fresh air and feel the weather on our faces. Each day I manage to do a little more than the day before so that is a good sign. I am lucky that I didn’t have a cough or breathlessness but I do feel very stuffed up and that peculiar taste and smell that developed still lingers.

Our homemade soup makes a satisfying meal for us as our appetites are slowly getting back to normal – today we will make a batch of mushroom soup between us – DH will do the chopping and I the cooking and then no doubt we will have a rest to get over the exertion! We have an apple crumble in the freezer but I am not sure I could do it justice yet so I will probably opt for a fruit yoghurt instead.

My life at the moment is as dull as the weather and I am looking forward to brighter and more productive days ahead now the worst of the virus is over and I am able to at least think about festive plans. This year our plans will be kept simple – often they are the best anyway. As some of my readers will know our family operates a Secret Santa – it is something we have done since 2013 and we have never looked back we are all thankful to spend less time shopping and it leaves more time to have family get togethers – eating, drinking, chatting and playing those all important party games.

It was quite encouraging to hear Martin Lewis give out a similar message last night on his program. Over the years it seems Christmas has become about the gifts and the shopping and very little else. When I was a little girl I always looked forward to going into Sheffield city centre at night to see the lights and the displays in the department store windows. Of course back then there were probably a dozen large department stores throughout the town and each put on a magical display. With all the council cutbacks our local town has a very poor display and somehow the new flickery LED lights don’t have quite the same impact as those old fashioned brightly coloured light bulbs that streamed across the road. We have no department stores left and hardly anyone has a window display. No doubt this is the reason that we now search out light displays to go to during the festive season at National Trust properties though they are a might more expensive than the free shows we used to have in all our towns and cities.

I always enjoy making a few little things for Christmas but this year I know I will be short on time. I am currently looking for inspiration for a Christmas card design – I quite often do a linocut – there is something quite simple and satisfying about this technique….ah well maybe I can magic up a little enthusiasm to make a start, after all Christmas waits for no-one.

dear diary >> keeping warm

Not surprisingly, each day for a long while I have intended to write a blog post but somehow life just got in the way and now dear DH and I have been struck down by the virus after avoiding it like the plague for so long. The virus itself came after a visit to the hospital about my shoulder – co-incidence maybe… or maybe not.

The symptoms resembled a good dose of flu, with fever, aching and a lot of prostration and sleep. There was no cold, runny rose, sneezing or cough for me just a sore throat and I am left with a rather strange smell and taste that won’t leave me that I can only liken to castor oil, but hopefully in time it will go. As we go into week 2 of the virus the tiredness is the overiding factor now that is rather hard to shake off but we have nothing scheduled in the diary this week so I am just going to ease myself back into life again and collapse on the sofa when I need to. We are aiming today for a short walk mainly to see daylight which seems in short supply at the moment and to get some movement into our muscles. Like flu it has left us lethargic and weak and we are putting all our energies into keeping warm, eating as well as we can and reading my favourite books.

Before I succomed to the virus I had spent a great deal of time making new cards for birthdays and occasions out of old ones so I thought I would share them tomorrow for the monthly Scrap Happy challenge day. Even if you are not creative they are so easy to make and not only do they re-use some of those lovely cards we are given these days but in these hard financial times making your own saves money.

I hope everyone else out there is keeping well, I keep reading my favourite blogs as I find the energy and concentration but commenting will be sparse until I feel back to normal. Being ‘laid up’ does allow me a lot of thinking time and I have been making plans in my head for adjusting certain areas of my life I am not happy with, change is never easy is it as we often fall unintentionally into bad habits. More sleep and exercise will be at the top of my agenda.

With Christmas looming on the horizon and the fact I have now lost a bit of time I don’t want to feel rushed or panicked when I start to get back to normal as it takes all the enjoyment away. I noticed how busy the roads have become recently and just going to Sainsbury’s in town for our weekly shop has become a whole morning or afternoon task and we are having to find quieter non-direct routes to avoid the lengthy queues – it appears there is no longer a quiet time to go.

Luckily we had a pantry full of food before we fell ill and I did manage to make some fresh tomato and red pepper soup one morning though I had to do it in 3 stages with a sit down rest between. I am so thankful I don’t have children to look after and can just go at my own pace for a while until recovery is complete.

Thankfully, I cannot pass on my germs over the blog and you are spared from seeing me in my post covid state kitted out in an old snuggly jumper and looking like I have passed through a hedge backwards!

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